Republicans flip multiple State Senate seats

  • Kevin Avard Courtesy photo

  • Gary Daniels Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/4/2020 5:40:17 PM

Republicans made headway in 2020 in races for local State Senate seats, in several cases in nail-bitingly close matches, turning at least three seats from blue to red, including Republican Kevin Avard reclaiming his seat from incumbent Melanie Levesque, returning to the seat he held from 2014 through 2018.

“We had to work down to the wire,” Avard said in an interview with the Ledger-Transcript on Wednesday morning. “I’m excited about it, and we won by a better margin than we lost by in 2018, which is a good thing.”

Avard ultimately took the race in a 17,449 to 16,619 vote, with only an 830 vote difference. It was a rematch of the Avard-Levesque race in 2018, which also resulted in only a narrow win for Levesque, with only a 169 vote difference.

Senate District 12 includes Rindge, New Ipswich, Mason and Greenville, all of which voted for Avard this time around. Avard had his strongest support in the traditionally conservative bastions of New Ipswich and Rindge, taking nearly 70 percent of the vote in New Ipswich and 62 percent of the vote in Rindge.

Avard said now that he’s back in his Senate seat, he’d like to focus on his core issues of the economy and school choice.

Avard said his goal is to lower taxes, and help the economy grow. He said with some of New Hampshire’s border states, including Massachusetts, currently putting in place more restrictions as COVID-19 cases surge, it’s an opportunity for New Hampshire to grow.

“I want to open the state,” Avard said.

Avard said he’ll also be championing school choice, or allowing the use of public education funds for public, private, charter or homeschooling as the parent sees fit. He said a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work in education.

“A lot of kids just learn differently,” Avard said. “That’s key for me.”

In another close race, Republican Gary Daniels also overturned a Democratic seat, winning against incumbent Shannon Chandley by a mere 198 votes.

This is also a return to the Senate for Daniels, who assumed the office in 2016 and served a single term before being unseated by Chandley in 2018. Prior to his Senate term, Daniels also served in the New Hampshire House from 1991 to 2000, and 2007 to 2014.

District 11 includes Wilton, where the race between Daniels and Chandley was neck-and-neck, with Daniels pulling ahead by a mere 15 votes in the 1,197-1,182 contest.

In District 9, despite a strong performance in the Monadnock area, and particularly in her hometown of Peterborough, incumbent Democratic Senator Jeanne Dietsch lost her seat to challenger Denise Ricciardi, by a narrow margin of 412 votes.

With several towns still to report totals on Wednesday morning, in Senate District 8, Republican incumbent Ruth Ward held a strong lead with about 55 percent of the vote, a spread of more than 3,300 votes over Democratic challenger Jenn Alford-Teaster.

Ward did well in Monadnock towns, winning the day in Antrim, Bennington and Francestown, though not overwhelmingly so.

Ward captured Antrim in a 823-689 vote, Bennington 423-368, and Francestown 573-523.

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